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Weekender: The Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

The village greens and the white, spired churches are vintage New England. Right nearby, rivers and reservations provide a pristine landscape for hiking, canoeing, and fly-fishing. And with scores of well-heeled urbanites buying country houses in this northwest corner of Connecticut, the dining and shopping are fast becoming as sophisticated as New York's. Whether you're looking for an antiquing retreat, quiet time by a lake, or a weekend of great food and rural vistas, a few days in the Litchfield Hills will satisfy your every fancy.

Where to Stay

Mayflower Inn 118 Woodbury Rd., Washington; 860/868-9466, fax 860/868-1497; doubles from $400. Modeled on an English country-house hotel, this Relais & Châteaux property ranks as one of New England's best. Twenty-five rooms and suites in the main house, as well as two cottages scattered on the grounds, are furnished with fine antiques, four-poster and sleigh beds, and Frette linens. The grounds hold three formal gardens, which invite you to promenade, as well as tennis courts, hiking trails, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool. Despite the obvious elegance and impeccable service, the atmosphere is far from stuffy.

Boulders Inn E. Shore Rd., New Preston; 800/552-6853 or 860/868-0541, fax 860/868-1925; doubles from $260, including breakfast. Country warmth and a prize location overlooking Lake Waramaug characterize this inn, named for its fieldstone exterior. Three of the six upstairs rooms are furnished with antiques and have lake views. But the choicest rooms are in the four guesthouses—with decks, wood-burning fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs—up the hill. A private beach is available for guests.

Manor House 69 Maple Ave., Norfolk; phone and fax 860/542-5690; doubles from $125, including breakfast. The Tudor mansion was built in 1898 for Charles Spofford, the son of Abraham Lincoln's librarian; its stained-glass windows were created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. A six-foot-high stone fireplace dominates the expansive cherrywood living room. Clearly, no detail has been overlooked at this eight-room (and one-suite) guesthouse.

Interlaken Inn 74 Interlaken Rd., Lakeville; 800/222-2909 or 860/435-9878, fax 860/435-2980; doubles from $149. The 30 acres surrounding this low-key 82-room resort provide ample space for guests to get lost. Should you choose to be more social, you can pass the time playing tennis or racquetball, sweating it out in the sauna, or just lounging by the pool. Of course, the two lakes on opposite ends of the property are always an option—and with a beach, paddleboats, and canoes, there's plenty to keep you busy.

Lilac Hedges 40 E. Litchfield Rd., Litchfield; 860/567-8830, fax 860/567-4895; doubles from $150 (two-night minimum), including breakfast. These two well-furnished suites, each with a private entrance, are the closest you'll come to your own place in the country. The downstairs Library Suite has book-lined shelves, original wood floors, and a kitchenette; the upstairs Chestnut Suite, measuring 1,500 square feet, has cathedral ceilings, exposed beams, and a full kitchen. In both, the icebox is stocked with breakfast fixings.

White Hart 15 Undermountain Rd., Salisbury; 800/832-0041 or 860/435-0030, fax 860/435-0040; doubles from $149. If you're looking for a classic 19th-century inn on the green, the White Hart is it. Each of the 26 rooms is done up in flowery chintz, and a wide, wicker-furnished porch provides the ideal spot for a sunset drink.

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